Marc Angel pictured outside a vigil for Brexit on 31 January this year. He says Europe must change course
Photo: Matic Zorman
The latest guest editorial focusing on the future of the European Union, written for Delano and Paperjam as part of the Summer like no other series, MEP Marc Angel (LSAP) argues that restoring confidence in the European project is crucial.
Beyond the energy transition called for by the European Commission at the beginning of its mandate, social, democratic and technological challenges are now at the forefront of the European project.
We need an ambitious project, that requires both a transformation of our way of life and the modernisation of our economy, while preserving our social gains and supporting our fellow citizens and industries as they move towards a just and sustainable transition in the digital age.
To achieve this, sufficient resources will have to be put on the table. The European Commission has already proposed a plan of €1,000 billion to ensure carbon neutrality by 2050, but we must do more, and faster.
We must look for new resources for the European Union to avoid the cost of the transition being borne by European citizens.
Taxation of non-recyclable plastics, taxation on financial transactions (FTT), the fair taxation of the Gafa or the establishment of a common consolidated corporate tax base are all ways to achieve this.
Moreover, Europe must change course. The successive crises of recent years have proved disastrous for European citizens, giving rise to regimes that are insufferable.
Invest in human capital
It is high time to invest heavily in human capital. And what better interlocutor to achieve this than the social partners who are at the heart of our workforce.
Europe can also support this approach by acting as a lever for public investment.
The cohesion funds will therefore have to play an active role in the transition from our current model to a socially and environmentally sustainable model, while public investments contributing to carbon neutrality and social development will have to be excluded from the calculation of the debt of the States, so as not to plunge European economies into even more fragility.
We will also have to create jobs that will lead to this transition and train workers accordingly. Digital transition will have to be at the heart of this action.
Access to a high-quality WiFi network is now indispensable in Europe. Digital technology and its learning are essential for the development of new skills on the labour market, which is why we are calling for an increase in European funds currently allocated to the training of young people, and a redistribution of these to training in new technological tools.
We must also guarantee the acceptability of this transition to all European citizens, especially the most vulnerable.
The strengthening of social dialogue and the establishment of new social protection mechanisms will be necessary to accompany the most vulnerable to the transition. The European minimum wage and the realisation of the European pillar of social rights will be the guarantors of this success, while the European Semester will be responsible for putting this transition into action.
Rule of law
Currently responsible for coordinating national economic and social policies, we call for a comprehensive reform of the European Semester, where social and environmental issues will be put on an equal footing with economic issues.
Moreover, we call for a strengthening of the rule of law in Europe. It is crucial to restore confidence of European citizens in our institutions.
To do so, we must ensure greater transparency in the management of European day-to-day affairs and ensure greater participation by the European Parliament in the implementation of the European Semester.
It is also crucial to ensure that the fundamental rights to which each member state has subscribed are respected. However, we are currently witnessing flagrant violations of these values by some European partners, while they benefit generously from European funds.
That is why we are calling for a new democratic pact, whose principle of conditionality will be the cornerstone. Indeed, suspending the allocation of European funds to countries where fundamental rights are not respected must become a golden rule in Europe; for the European Semester, it must be imposed as a warning tool for all European partners.
The transition will thus be marked by a red heart that aims to be progressive and human in scale.